Transit leaders work to push Purple Line project forward despite delays

Maryland

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (WDVM) — The future of the Purple Line project is in jeopardy after the Purple Line Transit Partners walked away following approval by a Baltimore City Circuit Court judge. PLTP reported delays and increased costs as the reason behind severing ties.

Less than a full day after contractors were able to walk off the job, leaders from Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Transit Authority say the state is committed to connecting Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties by rail.

“We disagree with the concessionaire’s assertions. We’re not going to let their claims distract us from getting this job done,” said Kevin Quinn, an administrator for MDOT MTA.

Quinn was not able to offer any further comment on the litigation, aside from saying, “they still have a long way to go.”

MDOT MTA has a few long-term options when it comes to finishing the Purple Line, and it could combine some elements of the options to make sure all of the necessary work gets done.

  • The state could still reach what it calls a “fair and reasonable” settlement with PLTP and continue working together.
  • It could seek out and procure an entirely new public-private partnership (P3), like it had before with PLTP.
  • MDOT MTA could decide to handle the project on it’s own, which could mean handling dozens of individual contracts.

“I can say that there are a number of good contractors in the market who want to take on this work. Including a number of good Maryland contractors who want to take on this work, that have reached out to us,” Quinn said.

MDOT MTA says it will be a while before we know the long-term plan. It’s estimated that it could take four to six months to finalize a long-term plan.

As for the next few weeks and months, the focus is on continuing to move some aspects of the project forward, like the design.

A lot of Montgomery County dollars have gone toward paying for the project, and county lawmakers are frustrated over the delay.

“What is absolutely unacceptable here is a firm that committed to doing work, to delivering a project, is abandoning the obligations. Commitments made should be commitments kept,” said Andrew Friedson, a member of the Montgomery County Council.

Other councilmembers chimed in during a briefing with MDOT MTA early Tuesday morning. Councilmember Will Jawando called the project a “disaster” and said he worries about a similar fate for another large P3 project in the county, the 270-495 Widening Project. Craig Rice, another council member, said he’s seen many comments regarding the current situation with the Purple Line. He expressed concern that delays like this erode public trust in government-managed projects.

Governor Larry Hogan has remained quiet on the issue in recent days. Montgomery County lawmakers say they are eager for him to publicly voice support for the continuation of the project.

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